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Wage Theft and The Philadelphia Restaurant Industry

According to a recent report released by the Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University Beasley School of Law, wage theft, which includes the failure to pay overtime, minimum wage violations, illegal deductions in pay, and much more, is a pervasive problem within Pennsylvania. It occurs in several industries which include, but are not limited to, fast food and restaurants, general construction, home health care, and retail. What’s even more interesting is that some of the occupational categories that were found to have the most violations (when looking at minimum wage, overtime, and off-the-clock violations), were food preparers, cooks, dishwashers, waiters, bartenders, and cafeteria workers.

While there are certainly some restaurants throughout the Philadelphia area that offer fair wages, great working conditions, benefits, and constantly seek to improve employee morale, there are those that do not. A report published in 2012 by the Philadelphia Restaurant Industry Coalition, which presented a look at the reality of Philadelphia’s restaurant industry through the feedback they received from surveys and interviews, found that restaurant workers are worse off than they have ever been.

Although the restaurants themselves have grown and more people are getting jobs, yearly wages have been on the decline, and many people continue to live in poverty.

What’s more, out of 600 restaurant workers that responded to the Philadelphia Restaurant Industry Coalition’s survey, more than half of those that worked 40+ hours a week over the course of a year, got paid less than legally mandated overtime rate—which is a blatant violation of state and federal laws.

Unfortunately, not all workers, and especially those in the restaurant industry, are aware of their rights under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, and the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act. This is especially true for those who have a poor education, come from a low-income family, or have a fear of losing their jobs if they confront their employers about their wage, or working conditions.

Employers who are taking advantage of their employees need to realize that they are not only putting themselves at risk, but they are putting a state’s economy at risk.

In fact, according to the Sheller Center for Social Justice at Temple University Beasley School of Law’s report, they concluded that because employers are depriving workers and committing wage theft, millions upon millions of dollars of valuable tax revenue is lost, thus causing the state to suffer.

Restaurant workers, or other individuals who believe that their employers have violated the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act and the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, should seek expert legal counsel immediately. Employment laws can be confusing, and some employers unrelenting. So, the moment you suspect you are being taken advantage of, it’s time to pick up the phone and speak with an attorney.

To learn more about your rights as an employee in Philadelphia or the state of Pennsylvania, please reach out to us here at Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC.